Home Electronics

While individual energy consumption of home entertainment systems, computers, and other home electronics may be relatively low, the cost can add up.

Unplug to Save

When you’re away from home for the weekend or longer, don’t just turn off your TV, DVD player, and cable box. Unplug them. As long as these and other small electronics are plugged in, they’ll draw power to operate timer displays and other functions that stay on even when the device is switched off. You won’t save a fortune—from 25 cents to $3 a month per device—but every little bit counts.

Protect Against Power Surges

This simple step isn’t about lowering your electric costs for home electronics. It’s about avoiding the big hit you’ll take if a power surge destroys your DVD player or other small electronics. Power surges are slight changes in voltage that happen during storms or other electrical events. They can damage the sensitive circuits inside electronic devices. To protect against them, plug your electronics into a surge protector.

Tip: Don’t confuse a power strip with a surge protector: A power strip offers no protection from power surges.

Take Advantage of Built-In Computer Features

computer monitor illustrationIf you have a computer that runs on Microsoft Windows, use the power management controls to put your computer to sleep after it idles for a specified period (adjustable from five minutes to more than an hour). The hibernation mode reduces the amount of power the computer uses (up to 300 watts at full power) to 15 watts or lower. In addition, some of the newest computers available have a feature called IAPC (Instantly Available PC) that sends the computer into a sleep mode of less than 8 watts—and then allows it to go right back to where you left off instantaneously when you turn it back on.

Tip:  Been wanting a sleek, new flat-panel computer monitor–but worried about the high price? Does it help to know they use only about a third of the energy of a traditional monitor? You may pay more for one initially, but the savings over time are likely to make up for that.

Home Electronics in a Nutshell

  • When you’re away for extended periods, unplug small electronics
  • Invest in a surge protector to keep power spikes from harming electronics
  • Take advantage of your computer’s power management controls
  • Consider a flat-panel monitor for energy savings